Purchasing leather furniturecan be a daunting task – it’s a big purchase, and you want to make sure you get the right type. Leather furniture can last a lifetime if you know what to look for. These few tips on looking for the best leather for your room will assist you in your decision.
Know the differences in leather. Leather comes in many grades, and the most desirable is full grain leather. This is leather that may show scars, wrinkles, or other evidences of the animal, but is soft and supple. A good leather manufacturer will attempt to hide the most evident scars on the hide along the back or hidden seams where they are less obvious.
Some leather companies will correct the hides by heat setting a more consistent “pattern”. If done well, you will not know the difference. This correction creates a more even appearance and disguises scars or bites. It gives the appearance of pebbled texture, and will add to the price but is sometimes more desirable.
Aniline-dyed leather is better. This means the hide has been dyed all the way through. If scratched, it will show the same color, not a white streak. Aniline dyed is also more porous, and allows the leather to breathe, making it more durable.
There are various tanning processes that leather goes through to determine color, texture, and softness. The rule of thumb is that the softer the leather, the pricier it will be. The more steps it does through will determine the price.
Think about how you will use the piece of furniture – do you have kids and pets? Will someone be eating while sitting on it? Will it be in the direct sun? All of these factors need to be considered. While you may love the softer textures of a Nubuck or Suede, these will absorb oils and stains and not hold up to the stress of kids or pets. Ask about protected leathers – these have a protective coating that prevents oils from penetrating, and adds extra durability. Not all leathers are available with a protection, so be sure to inquire. Protected leathers are least likely to show scratches, they do not fade as fast, and soften as they are used.
Leather furniture is extremely practical for active lifestyles and large families. By researching before you buy, you’ll be able to determine which type of leather is best for you.
—Jan Finlayson, Allied Member ASID